As if on cue, dozens of fairy terns and frigate birds whip in and out of the helicopter’s path as we take to the air over Frégate Island. But my fear for their safety—and mine—dissipates as we rise above the Indian Ocean. Speckled with miniature footprints of land, the cerulean expanse stretches past the inner islands of Seychelles toward an implausibly blue sky.Such captivating scenes are standard in the African nation of Seychelles—as are close encounters with nature.
Located about 1,000 miles east of Kenya in the Indian Ocean, the country of some 115 islands is home to more than 240 bird species and 900 fish species but fewer than 90,000 humans, most of whom live on the main island of Mahé. During my three nights in Frégate Island’s Golan villa—a stunning French Colonial–style oceanfront suite that comes with a dedicated private assistant—I mingled more with magpie robins, Seychelles fodies, and giant tenebrionid beetles than I did with other human beings.
Thick with jungle, the 741-acre Frégate Island appears a forgotten paradise, save for the 17 villas discreetly situated along its shore. The exclusive private-island resort was the first of its kind in Seychelles, and its 1998 debut marked a turning point for the country’s tourism. "The Seychelles guest experience has undergone a great transformation," says Steve Hill, Frégate’s former ecology manager who is now an independent environmental consultant.
Having led various conservation efforts in the islands since 1996—including reintroducing magpie robins and other endemic species to Frégate—the South Africa native has seen firsthand the evolution of Seychelles tourism. "Frégate was one of the first properties to bring high-profile visitors to the islands," says Hill. "It has since sparked a new generation of luxury resorts in Seychelles that continually raises the bar."
FRÉGATE ISLAND PRIVATE
A Seychelles standard-bearer, this private-island resort opened in 1998 and is generally credited with initiating the archipelago’s luxury-resort boom. The 17 well-spaced villas on Frégate feature a crisp French Colonial style, and each comes with a personal assistant. Two restaurants and a variety of private dining experiences take advantage of the island’s plantation and hydroponic gardens, as does the resort’s Rock Spa, where treatments incorporate papayas and coconut oil. ($1,828 to $2,250 per person, per night) +27.21.556.99.84, www.fregate.com
[via Robb Report | Article & Photos by Jackie Caradonio]